A tenant's guide to renting

So you have decided to rent a property, however, this may be your first time renting. With this in mind, we have created this page to help you understand the process of renting a property.

Check your affordability

First things first, can you afford it? Aside from the upfront costs you will need to secure and rent a property, you will also need to evidence that your income can support the rental amount.

Upfront costs

These have changed in the last few years after the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019. This legislation prevented landlords and agents from charging tenants any fees to rent a property.

There are still some upfront costs that you will need to pay prior to taking up occupation of a property. These are as follows:

  • Holding Deposit (equal to 1 week's rent) - Upon successful referencing this usually forms part of your first months rent.
  • Security Deposit (For all tenancies with an annual rent less than £50,000 the maximum deposit that can be taken is the equivalent of 5 weeks rent. For an annual rent above this, the maximum amount that can be taken is 6 weeks).
  • First Month's Rent - (the remaining balance if you paid a holding deposit).

Monthly Rental Affordability

With regards to how much rent you can afford from an income affordability, this is usually calculated at 2.5 times the rental amount. i.e. if your annual income is £23,000, your monthly rental affordability will be £766.66 per month.

Each letting agent may have a slightly different set of criteria, but will usually follow a similar method. I would advise that when you make contact with an agent once you have identified the property you are interested.

Choosing the right location

Choosing the right neighbourhood is very important when starting your rental search. Usually people don't stray too fair from home when they start out on their own, so usually know the areas around them. However, this isn't always the case. We take a look at a few things you may want to consider:

What's the neighbourhood vibe?

One of the most important aspects when selecting an area. We recommend that you visit the areas you have identified as potential locations during the day and night. This will give you a good idea on what the area can be like throughout all times of the day.

Transport routes

It may not be top of your list when deciding on where to rent. However you never know when you might need to use public transport. Being located near to a bus route could help you should your car need repairing. Or being located within a short walk to work could help you to be greener and cut CO2 emissions and saving you money.

School Catchments

Obviously only relevant if you have kids or are considering having children soon. However, when you do join the partnering crew, this will soon become a very important aspect to your location. You'll want your child to go to the best schools available and these schools usually take their students from inside a catchment area.

Finding the right property

So you have worked out how much your can afford to pay in rent, you have identified a few areas you would be happy to move to, now you need to decide what type and size of property you need.

You will need to make a list of the things you MUST HAVE and the things you would like.

Another thing to consider is that you select a landlord or letting agent that you can trust, you will be signing into a contract for many months, so having a good relationship with them is going to help with a smooth, stress free process. Stewarts Estates are proud members of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA PropertyMark). This means we choose to operate under strict standards of professional and ethical practice.

If you have done all of the above and are ready to start searching take a look at what we have available here.

What to ask when viewing property to rent

You will need to act fast if you want to secure the property you want as they don't tend to hang around for long. So in order to help you make a swift decision, here are a few things to look out for or to ask the landlord/agent:

  • Parking - does the property come with parking and where is it?
  • Space - Does the size of the property met you requirements, with maybe a little room to grow?
  • Decor - what is the current condition of the property? Does the Landlord intend to make alterations/improvements? Are you allowed to make any alterations/improvements? Can you put up pictures? We also recommend that you get any responses in writing.
  • EPC - what is the current EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating? This will impact your bills and may cause problems further down the line.
  • Broadband Speed - in todays world, having a good broadband speed is very important. It will help prevent the wheel of doom appearing while trying to watch a movie. Make sure you do your home work on what the current speed is for the property you are interested in.
  • Management - an excellent question to ask is who will be looking after the property during your tenancy? Who do you pay your rent to or report any maintenance issues to?

The application process

Great you have found a property you wish to move into. Congratulations!! So what's next....?

The next step is to pay your holding deposit and complete the referencing process. This is where some agencies may differ slightly, however the end result is usually the same. We need to confirm you are who you say you are and that you can afford the rental amount, along with how you have been as a tenant previously (if you have rented before).

You will be sent an application form normally online to complete. It will ask you for the following information:

  • Last three years addresses
  • Previous landlord details (if applicable)
  • Income confirmation - employment details etc
  • Credit History - whether you have had any adverse credit in the past, such as, County Court Judgements (CCJ) or bankruptcy etc.
  • Self Employment - if you are self employed then you are usually asked to provide your last two years tax returns or for confirmation of earnings from your accountant.

Right to rent checks - your landlord or agent are legal required to carry out the right to rent checks on all applicants wishing to take a property in the UK. They will need to check one or more documents to satisfy the governments requirements. We have create a page here listing the required and acceptable documents.

Once the above has been completed and you have passed the references your landlord or letting agent will be in a position to send you a tenancy agreement. Please remember this is a legally binding document and will set out the terms and conditions of your tenancy. Please make sure that you read through this document carefully and seek legal advice if you are unsure of any of the contents.

Once you are happy to proceed, you will need to sign the tenancy agreement and pay your final monies which will be your security deposit and the remaining amount for your first months rent.

Your landlord or agent will then secure your deposit within 30 days with one of the deposit protection schemes. They will give you a set of terms of conditions for that scheme along with a prescribed information explaining where your deposit has been lodged.

Some agents may operate a deposit alternative or even a deposit free option. If this is the case, always ask for then to clearly explain how this will work for you.

Preparing for your move in day

So you have found the property you wish to move in to, you have completed the application process and have been accepted. The tenancy agreement has been sent for you to sign, what else do you need to consider prior to your move in day?

You will need to make sure that all parties have signed the tenancy agreement and that all monies have been paid in cleared funds before your landlord or letting agent will release the keys to you.

Once the above has been completed, you can start organising the following:

  • Removals - depending on the about of furniture and belongings you need to bring with you, you may need to book a removal company to help you transport your items. These usually need to be booked in advance so you need to arrange this as soon as the agreement has been signed.
  • Broadband/Internet - If you need broadband in your new home, then you may want to get this ball rolling straight away. The broadband providers work to their own timetables and will normally take several weeks to book in an installation date.
  • TV package - again this is another service which can take weeks to have installed.

The most important thing is to try and enjoy the process of arranging your new home.

Moving day

Finally the day has arrived, and the van is packed ready to go. You've collected the keys and you have arrived at your new home. Before you start unloading, we recommend you do a few things first:

  • Check the inventory - your landlord or letting agent will normally have an inventory or schedule of condition carried out on the property. This will detail the condition of the property and list any items left by the landlord for your use. We recommend that you go through this report and make any notes/amendments of things that may have been missed on the report. This is to safe guard your deposit and allows you to make the landlord away of any items already damaged/broken prior to your occupation.
  • Take meter readings - These may have already been taken and detailed in the inventory report. However, it wont hurt you take a picture before you move in yourself.
  • Do all the keys work - make sure that you have all the keys to the doors and windows. and always ask permission in you need more cut.

Congratulations on your move. We hope that you enjoy your time in the property.

Living in your new property

Now that you have moved in and have unpacked your belongings, except for that box in the corner, what do you need to consider? We have the below list of common things that arise during a tenancy:

  • Condensation & Rising Damp - this can be a big problem in properties up and down the UK. There are many things that can cause condensation. We advise that you understand the difference between condensation and rising damp. They are completely different and are caused by different factors. We have a page dedicated to this here.
    Utilities - some letting agents and landlords will usually notify the utility providers of your occupation of the property. However this isn't always the case and as this forms part of your responsibility as the occupier of the property we suggest that you make contact with them. This also gives you the opportunity to choose who you wish to supply your property and get the best rates available.
  • Maintenance - things happen during the tenancy that can be unpredictable or accidental. The main thing is that you make your landlord or letting agent aware of it as soon as it happens. That way they can prevent the situation from getting worse.
  • Neighbours - please try to respect your neighbours. We request all our clients to be considerate neighbours, and to be mindful of their actions and how they may impact others.
  • Inspections - your landlord or property manager may from time to time attend to inspect the property. They will contact you prior to this visit and arrange a day and time to attend. This is just to ensure that you are looking after the property and discuss any issue you ma have with the property.
  • Payments - make sure that you have set up a standing order for your rent to be paid to the landlord or letting agent. The frequency and amount, along with the bank details are within your tenancy agreement. If you are unsure then you can always contact your letting agent or landlord.
  • Stopcock -this will come in handy to know where this is located in the property if you experience a leak from a burst pipe. You will want to turn of the water straight away. (link to video showing how to turn it off)
  • Bins - you may want to get in touch with your local council to find out what day your bins are collect. You will also have three types of bins:

- a food bin

- a recycling bin (Normally the larger one)

- a general waste bin

They are normally rotated every week, so you will need to know which bin goes out on which date. The councils will usually have a web page dedicated to this.

Moving Out

The time has now come for you to start anew adventure and that means that you will be vacating your current rental property. In order to do this and return the property back to your landlord in a similar condition to when you received it, there are a few things you may wish to look at. We have done our best to create a page dedicated to the check out list. This covers most of the issue we deal with when a property is returned to us, but may have missed one or two things.

Click here to few this list.